KARACHI: Some key medicines, including life-saving drugs, cough syrups and painkillers, are being sold for twice their original prices as they are not easily available in markets.
Retailers and wholesalers with stocks of these drugs are fully exploiting the shortage.
Some of the prominent medicines are Avil injection, Sosegon injection, Stilnox tablets, Panadol plain, Panadol CF tablets, Nuberol Forte, Optalidon, Trisil, Sancos syrup, Benatuss, Xaltide inhaler for asthma, Salbo inhaler and Ativan.
Medicine dealers are charging Rs15 for a Panadol strip plain at retail stage. Some are demanding Rs20, attributing the price hike at the wholesale trade.
The box of Panadol of 160 tablets now costs Rs200 compared to Rs160 at wholesale market, they said, disagreeing that retailers are responsible for the price hike.
“How can we sell Panadol at its actual retail price when we get it at higher rates?” they asked.
Similarly, Ativan tablet, according to the retailers, also costs Rs10 but it is available at Rs20 at wholesale. Xaltide Inhaler rate is Rs195 but it is available at triple the original retail price. For consumers, shortage of medicines and the blackmarketing have become a routine. But the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has not taken any serious step to check whether the shortage is genuine.
Retailers said shortage also looms in some antibiotics. According to chemists, a few important drugs that are short include Gelusil (a leading antacid), Acefyl syrup (for cough), Xanax (used to treat anxiety and panic disorder) and Erythrocin antibiotic.
Sources in the pharmaceutical industry said many drugs made through toll manufacturing are not being produced due to non-issuance of licenses by the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA).